31. The Weapon of Choice
We got to Nora’s bay front property to find her dad went out to visit a friend, so we had the place to ourselves.
Rather than risk wasting our precious time alone on actual work, we quickly became a heap of writhing clothes on her bed. Nora’s hot breath tickled the light whiskers on my face, and my hands found their way into the wonderfully warm space between her blouse and skin.
She stopped kissing me as I tried to undo her bra. “You were fucking weird today. None of that for you.”
“Oh, c’mon. Being a little weird never hurt anyone.”
She became rigid and pushed me away, and I knew I’d said something wrong. “Sometimes when you get weird—it ends up hurting me in the process. Do you really think ‘being weird’ is in your best self-interest at this point?”
“I don’t think I have any idea what ‘normal’ is, I—”
Nora screamed—not at me, but rather in genuine fear.
“What the hell?” I turned around to see what shocked her.
Emily was waving at us through Nora’s window, her face inches from the glass.
“Hey, guys,” she said loudly into the window. The cheeriness in her voice was muffled by the pane between us.
I half-expected her to pull out a gun and start shooting or to smash through the glass and jump in to murder me with an ice pick. I didn’t know if Emily had some deep-seated feelings for me; I doubted it. She could’ve just hated the idea that I’d found someone when she clearly was incapable of love.
“She’s one of the people I was trying to tell you about,” I said, my face and my palm connecting.
“You mean after I saw this skank kissing you, you still have anything to do with her?” Nora asked, loudly enough for Emily to hear. “I thought it was pretty well assumed that if we were a couple, you wouldn’t be hanging out with any exes.”
“Can I come in?” Emily asked. “It’s hot out here.”
“No,” I said. “Look, I wouldn’t touch her.”
“Except that one time,” Emily supplied helpfully.
“You dick,” Nora said, punching me in the shoulder.
“I thought you hated me. And it was for Eureka…”
“If you could—” Emily tried to say.
“You saw Emily again, even after all of that?”
“This was before you came and picked me up on Christmas.” I said, trying to calm Nora.
“Proceed to the front door…” Emily continued, folding her arms.
“I’m trying to explain. Look,” I put a hand on Nora’s shoulder, which she flung off.
“YELLOW SKITTLES!” Emily shouted at the top of her voice, finally getting our attention. We both turned and looked at her. “They’re my favorite out of the bunch.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked.
“Let me in, kiddies,” Emily said. “We can sit down and talk like grownups. Or, alternatively, Jacob can tag me and I will go home.”
“You’ve always been a total bitch to me,” Nora said. “Why would you come to my house? How do you even know where I live?”
“I thought your calming influence might help me talk some sense into Jacob,” Emily said.
I rubbed a hand across my face in frustration. Emily hadn’t even started revealing the big secrets, and her presence alone had nearly broken us up.
“She’s not just going to go away,” I said. “She’s uh…persistent.”
“I will give you your car back, Jacob,” the raven-haired teen said, dangling my keys at me. “I’m tired of running from the police anyway.”
“You can have it,” I said.
“Wait…why does she have your car?” Nora asked.
“He gave it to me,” Emily said. I scowled at her. “Let me in, and I’ll tell you all about it. I’ve got tons of dirty secrets.”
“No way are you coming in!” Nora said, arms crossed, looking threatened.
“I didn’t give it to her. It was Eureka, I had to,” I tried to explain.
“Why didn’t you tell the cops?” Nora asked.
“I couldn’t. It would have been…” I struggled to think of the words.
“Poor sportsmanship?” Emily supplied, her voice still muffled.
“Sorta,” I said.
“Let’s move this to the front, so I can kick you both out,” Nora quietly decided, shaking her head the whole time. “I cannot handle this right now. Jacob, I’m trying. I really am. You’re making it too hard.”
As we walked through the house to the front door, I tried to reason with her. She wasn’t having it. Nora had shut down, and my words fell on deaf ears.
Emily waited outside, one arm up against the side of the home, the other one holding a cigarette to her lips. Short maroon dress pushed against her curves by the wind, night to the day of Nora’s blue jeans and t-shirts.
“Put that out,” Nora demanded. “You’ll make the whole place stink.”
Emily ignored her. “Jacob, if you tag me, I’ll leave,” she said. “I don’t mean to break your life. I only want what I want.”
Tagging her was tempting, I had to admit. Everything she said was ripping apart months of building trust with Nora.
“You can quit after that,” Emily tempted. “Then you can be with the little nerd all you want.”
“Hey,” Nora objected.
I didn’t know how to defend a girl from another girl.
Emily addressed Nora next. “If he tags me, puts his hand on me and says ‘tag,’ then everyone will stop bothering him forever. It’s easy. He’s doing all this for you. He knows he has to break up with you if he keeps playing with us, so he tries to stop the game because he doesn’t want to quit either. For you! Do you know how lucky you are?”
Nora turned to me. “Would you get this crazy bitch off my lawn?”
“What am I supposed to do, drag her by the hair?”
“It would be a nice start,” Nora said, vocal venom. Emily stared. “Just get her out of here. I can’t handle this.” Tears were springing up in the corners of her eyes. “What do you two want from me?”
I put my arms around her and hugged her. She held her hands up so all I felt were her elbows and forearms, but I tried to comfort her anyway.
“Jesus, she’s got a fragile mind. It’s not that—”
Emily was interrupted as Nora shoved me back and away from her, turned, and punched Emily in the mouth. Her fist connected with a solid thwack and Emily stumbled backward slowly in her platform shoes, eventually falling onto the soft grass, her cigarette landing several feet away.
Nora tried to continue her attack, but I grabbed her by the shoulders and reeled her back in.
“You punched me,” Emily said in shock, wiping her mouth with her forearm.
“You should go,” I said. “She’s probably going to do it again.”
Nora was sniffling back tears. She spun around, shoved me away from the door, and slammed it between us.
“Nora, come on. I didn’t do this!”
“Go to hell, both of you!” I heard her cry, and I knew she was walking back to her room.
“Son of a bitch,” I proclaimed to no one in particular.
Emily was still on the ground behind me. She extended a hand so I could help her up. “Not this time,” I said, walking past.
YOU ARE READING
[sic]Mystery / Thriller
Six teens are devoted to a game with one rule: If a player gets tagged, they must change their life within the next fifteen minutes. The better the player, the bigger the change. One might give their car away, or punch the school bully. Another migh...